"The love of money is the root of all evil." Or so we've heard. Is this true? Should Christians pursue a life of poverty? Or does this mean something deeper?
The Bible describes saving money as a wise practice for the people of God. Consider some of the following reasons:
- The Lord is the source and provider for everything the people of God need (Philippians 4:19).
- God provides money, so it is a Christian's responsibility to steward money well (Matthew 25:14-27).
What Does 'The Love of Money Is the Root of All Evil' Mean for Christians?
Saving money demonstrates wise stewardship of the resources God has given to His people. It also helps in the following ways:
- Being prepared for the future, which is good (Proverbs 6:6-8).
- Saving money and planning helps one to be more effective in ministry (1 Corinthians 16:2).
- When Christians don’t plan and save money, they are more prone to go into debt, which the Bible tells us is unwise (Proverbs 22:27).
- The Lord desires His people to be cheerful givers (2 Corinthians 9:7).
How Does 'The Love of Money Is the Root of All Evil' Show Us Bad Motives about Money?
If money in itself isn't bad, but the love of money is the root of all evil, let's dissect where bad intentions come into play. There are also many wrong motives to save money, such as the following:
- Saving money for the future out of fear means we are not trusting God to provide (Luke 12:7; 2 Timothy 1:7).
- It’s not wise to make money our security (Proverbs 18:11).
- 1 Timothy 6:10 warns against greed among the people of God.
Money Cannot Ultimately Satisfy
Servants of the Lord in the Bible are rich, like Abraham, and poor, like John the Baptist. Paul warns that the love of money, not money itself, is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10). With that said, amassing a vast fortune is not sin, but it does bring more temptation to make money the ultimate focus instead of the Lord.
The Lord created man to enjoy Him and be satisfied in Him. Money still plays an essential part in the providence of God. Through the financial gifts of the people of God, the Lord funds the mission of His church to make disciples of the nations.
As we consider in more depth 1 Timothy 6:9-10, we need to understand there is nothing wrong with material prosperity (Proverbs 10:4; 22; 22:4). Those who are blessed with an abundance of resources are given to them that they may advance the Kingdom of God (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
Money Comes with a Lot of Temptation
The wealthy person may be more tempted to trust in their resources than the Lord (Psalm 52:7). Paul’s point in 1 Timothy 6:10 is that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, not directly the root of evil. Other idols such as greed, a lust for power, and so on reveal the roots. The abundance of resources available to the people of God should lead to thankfulness, not to greed.
Matthew Henry rightly says, “People may have money, and yet not love it; but, if they love it inordinately, it will push them on to all evil.” Pursuing money for righteous ends versus false ones is a razor-thin line that requires great wisdom from the Word of God. Even so, wealthy Christians should never look down on those with fewer resources, for such an attitude is sinful.
The Israelites were not the first people the Lord God called to exercise wise stewardship. The first were Adam and Eve, who were called to exercise dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:27-28). Since the fullness of the earth belongs to the Lord (Psalm 24:1), everything we have is on loan from the Lord who rightly owns it.
Wise Stewardship Pleases the Lord
Many Christians struggle with the idea of tithing, but the issue focuses not on the amount but on stewardship. Jesus teaches that the treasure of our hearts is what is essential (Matthew 6:21). Our checkbooks say a lot about the state of our spiritual growth.
What Does the Bible Say about Budgeting?
One tool in the toolbelt for wise stewardship is budgeting. There are many resources, but the simplest way to do that is to open Microsoft Word or Excel and make a list of when you get paid and then put in all your bills. As you budget for your bills and pay them, put some money away in savings each month and tithe. Budgeting well helps you to give abundantly to the Lord’s work, for the goal is to be a wise steward of both our time and lives to the glory of God.
To better understand this point, consider how the grain offering was given to support the work and ministry at the Tabernacle/Temple (Leviticus 2:3, 10). Giving in the New Testament serves the same purpose as Paul encourages the church in Corinth (2 Corinthians 8:1-9:5) to contribute to a collection he is giving to the poor at the Jerusalem church. In 2 Corinthians 9:6-15, the Apostle Paul calls the Corinthians to give generously. The point isn’t how much we give, the point is to give cheerfully because the Lord has provided.
Wise Stewardship Is a Matter of Worship
The Lord desires to be worshipped in spirit and truth by His people (John 4:24), which is why He wants your use of money to reflect His priorities. Additionally, He wants you not to give with a clenched fist, but joyfully, so you can give to further His Kingdom. Nothing is more joyful when we have the right motivation in giving, and nothing gives the Lord more glory than a cheerful giver. John MacArthur (The MacArthur Bible Commentary, p. 1,640) says, “God loves a heart that is enthusiastically thrilled with the pleasure of giving.”
Wise stewardship is a matter of worship, which is the problem with prosperity preachers. Prosperity preachers demand Christians to give to them, and then the Lord will bless them, according to the prosperity preachers, a hundredfold in return.
Now that we understand what the Bible says about money, we know the prosperity gospel is not true and never has been. God loves a cheerful giver, but even more so, He wants cheerful worshipers who delight in Him. Every opportunity that presents itself to the people of God is one of worship and one of service to Him. All of our lives, from how we use our money to the use of our gifts to how we treat others, is a matter of worship. At every time and in every space and at all times, we live before the face of God who sees, knows, and will hold to account how we steward our lives and money. Let us consider then what kind of servants we are and return to the Lord who provides mercy and grace through Christ (Lamentations 3:40; 1 Corinthians 15:1-9; 1 John 1:9).
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Dave Jenkins is happily married to Sarah Jenkins. He is a writer, editor, and speaker living in beautiful Southern Oregon.